Doc. 38.-the rebel commissariat.
office of Chief Commissary, Quincy, Fla., November 2, 1863.it has been a subject of anxious consideration how I could, without injury to our cause, expose to the people throughout the State the present perilous condition of our army. To do this through the public press would point out our source of danger to our enemies. To see each one in person, or even a sufficient number to effect the object contemplated, is impossible; yet the necessity of general and immediate action is imperative to save our army, and with it our cause, from disaster. The issues of this contest are now transferred to the people at home. If they fail to do their duty and sustain the army in its present position, it must fall back. If the enemy break through our present line, the wave of desolation may roll even to the shores of the Gulf and Atlantic. In discipline, valor, and the skill of its leaders, our army has proven more than a match for the enemy. But the best appointed army cannot maintain its position without support at home. The people should never suffer it to be said that they valued their cattle and hogs, their corn and money, more than their liberties and honor, and that they had to be compelled to support an army they had sent to battle in their defence. We hope it will not become necessary to resort to impressments among a people fighting for their existence, and in defence of their homes and country and institutions. We prefer rather to appeal to them by every motive of duty and honor — by the love they bear their wives and daughters — by the memory of the heroic dead, and the future glory and independence of their country, to come to its rescue in this darkest hour of its peril. A country which can afford to send forth in its defence the flower of its youth and the best of its manhood, can afford, and are in honor bound, to sustain them at any cost and sacrifice of money and property. They have sacrificed home and ease, and suffered untold hardships, and with their lives are now defending every thing we hold most sacred. Florida has done nobly in this contest. Her sons have achieved  the highest character for their State, and won imperishable honors for themselves. These brave men are now suffering for want of food. Not only the men from Florida, but the whole army of the South are in this condition. Our honor as a people demands that we do our duty to them. They must be fed. The following extracts from official letters in my possession do but partially represent the present condition of the armies of General Bragg and Beauregard, and their gloomy prospect for future supplies: Major J. F. Cumming, who supplies General Bragg's army, writes, “It is absolutely and vitally important that all the cattle that can possibly be brought here shall be brought as promptly as possible;” and again, on the fifth of October, he says: “I cannot too strongly urge upon you the necessity, yes, the urgent necessity, of sending forward cattle promptly. It appears that all other resources are exhausted, and that we are now dependent upon your State for beef for the very large army of General Bragg. I know you will leave no stone unturned, and I must say all is now dependent on your exertions, so far as beef is concerned. In regard to bacon, the stock is about exhausted-hence beef is our only hope. I know the prospect is very discouraging, and it only remains with those of us having charge of this most important work to do all we can to exhaust our resources; and when we have done this, our country cannot complain of us. If we fail to do all that can be done, and our cause shall fail, upon us will rest the responsibility; therefore let us employ every means at our command.” Again, on the sixth, he says: “Major A. can explain to you the great and absolute necessity for prompt action in the matter; for, Major, I assure you, that nearly all now depends on you.” And on the nineteenth of October, he says: “Captain Townsend, A. C.S., having a leave of absence for thirty days from the army of Tennessee, I have prevailed on him to see you and explain to you my straitened condition, and the imminent danger of our army suffering for the want of beef.” And on the twentieth October, he wrote: “The army to-day is on half-rations of beef, and I fear within a few days will have nothing but bread to eat. This is truly a dark hour with us, and I cannot see what is to be done. All that is left for us to do is to do all we can, and then we will have a clear conscience, no matter what the world may say.” Major Locke, Chief Commissary of Georgia, wrote: “I pray you, Major, to put every agency in motion that you can to send cattle without a moment's delay toward the Georgia borders. The troops in Charleston are in great extremity. We look alone to you for cattle; those in Georgia are exhausted.” Major Guerin, Chief Commissary of South-Carolina, wrote: “We are almost entirely dependent on Florida, and it is of the last importance, at this time, that the troops here should be subsisted.” Again, he says: “As it is, our situation is full of danger, from want of meat, and extraordinary efforts are required to prevent disaster.” And on the ninth of October, he says: “We have now forty thousand troops and laborers to subsist. The supply of bacon on hand in the city is twenty thousand pounds, and the cattle furnished by this State is not one tenth of what is required. My anxieties, and apprehensions, as you may suppose, are greatly excited.” Major Millen, of Savannah, on the tenth of October, says: “I assure you, Major, that the stock of bacon and beef for the armies of the confederate States is now exhausted, and we must depend entirely upon what we may gather weekly. Starvation stares the army in the face — the handwriting is on the wall.” On the twenty-sixth of October, he says: “From the best information I have, the resources of food (meat) of both the Tennessee and Virginia armies are exhausted. The remark now applies with equal force to South-Carolina and Georgia, and the army must henceforth depend upon the energy of the purchasing commissaries, through their daily or weekly collections. I have exhausted the beef cattle, and am now obliged to kill stock cattle.” From these you perceive that there is too much cause for the deep solicitude manifested by the writers. They should excite the fears and apprehensions of every lover of his country. Truly the responsibility upon us is great, when we are expected to feed these vast armies, whether the producers will sell to us or not. The slightest reflection would teach any one that it is impossible to provide for such armies by impressments alone. The people must cheerfully yield their supplies, or make up their minds to surrender their cause. It is their cause. It is not the cause of the government. The government is theirs. The army, the government, you and I, and every one, and every thing we have, are staked upon this contest. To fail, is total and irretrievable ruin, universal confiscation of every thing, and abject and ignominious submission and slavery to the most despicable and infamous race on earth. Whoever has any other thought but to fight on, at any cost of life and property, until we achieve our independence, or all perish in the struggle, deserves to be the slave of such an enemy. But, under the guidance of Providence, our cause is safe in the hands of our army, provided we do our duty at home. But Providence will not help a people who will not help themselves. Our enemies have no hope of conquering us by arms. Their only hope is, that we will be untrue to ourselves, and in the blind pursuit of gain, lose sight of our country, and thus suffer our army, and with it our cause, to perish. How stands the case? You know the resources of Tennessee are lost to us; the hog cholera and other causes have cat short the prospect in Georgia and other States. It is ascertained that the last year's crop of bacon is about exhausted, and it is certain that tile crop of this will be much shorter than that of last year. Now two large armies look almost solely to Florida to supply one entire article of subsistence. The entire surplus of this year's crop of  bacon throughout the Confederacy, even when husbanded with the utmost economy, will be inadequate to the demands of the government. This makes it the duty of every man to economize as much as possible — to sell not a pound to any one else whilst there is any danger of our army suffering, and to pledge at schedule rates his entire surplus — bacon, beef, sugar, and syrup — to the government. I solemnly believe our cause is hopeless, unless our people can be brought to this point. I have thought it my duty to address this confidential circular to the principal men in various sections of the State, and invoke their aid and cooperation with the purchasing commissaries and government agents in their districts, in inaugurating and putting into operation some system by which our armies can be more promptly supplied, and all of our resources which are necessary secured to the government. The appeals to me are more and more urgent every day; the pressure upon our State is very great. Should she now respond to the call made upon her resources as she has upon the bloodiest battle-fields of the war, the measure of her glory will be full. But if we withhold our supplies, we cripple our army, and render it impossible for them to advance after achieving the most signal victories. The people at home must put themselves upon a war footing. This they have never yet done. They must sow and plant, and gather for the government. Then, and not till then, will the bright rays of peace break through the clouds of war which overhang us.
P. W. White, Major and Chief Commissary.P. S.--You are specially requested not to allow this circular to go out of your possession, but to read it to such persons as you know to be true and prudent, and to begin the work contemplated immediately.
Restrictions on food: circular.
Major P. W. White, C. S. for the State of Florida, “the removal across the borders of the State (except for army consumption) of all articles of subsistence which make part of the army ration, without special permit, is hereby prohibited, except in cases manifestly for family use, or under circumstances which relieve the transaction from the possibility of being purchase for speculative purposes.” The permit in the cases mentioned will be applied for of the District Commissaries. No purchases will be allowed in this district, either by commissaries or their agents from other districts, except under an order from Major White, C. S. for the State. Hides and tallow in the hands of speculators, middle-men, or others, will not be allowed to be removed, but will be impressed under orders from the Quartermaster-General. By order of
Brigadier-General Finegan. W call, A. A.G.